MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – WCCO hosted a debate between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and republican challenger Mike McFadden Sunday at 10 a.m.
In the first question, the moderators pressed Franken to answer whether he would support a temporary travel ban on people coming from West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus. After demurring twice, Franken finally said he has “nothing against” such a ban.
But Franken noted such a ban wouldn’t be effective because few flights from the region travel direct to the U.S. He played up his work to ready Minnesota — which has a significant Liberian population — for a possible outbreak.
Meanwhile, McFadden seized on Franken’s half-hearted answer.
“He didn’t answer it. People want straight talk,” he said. McFadden has repeatedly called for a travel ban, saying the country isn’t prepared to handle the virus.
Here’s the first question:
There are now three states enforcing mandatory quarantines of people returning from West Africa who had direct contact with Ebola patients. Mr. McFadden, you want to go further: a travel ban from west African countries where there have been Ebola outbreaks. Why do you think that will prevent an outbreak when the world’s most credible health experts say it is ineffective?
McFadden: As I looked into it, we’re not close to being prepared for an Ebola outbreak in the United States. There’s only four state-of-the-art contamination centers in this country. One’s in Atlanta, Georgia. One’s in Omaha, Nebraska. One’s in Washington, D.C. and the other one is in Montana. They can take three to ten patients at a time. So, if we have an outbreak, we’re not ready to address it.
I think a travel ban is common sense, Pat. We have a way to prevent people that have the potential to have Ebola from coming into our country. So, I’ve called for a temporary travel ban for people traveling from west Africa to the United States.
Sen. Franken, you said a ban should be considered, but you also say you’re worried about getting aid and relief workers in and out of these areas. Which is it? Are you for a travel ban or are you against it?
Franken: Obviously, it’s insufficient to have a travel ban from those West African countries to the United States, because they – actually it’s a vast majority – go through third countries. There’s very few flights from those countries directly.
I agree that the response in Dallas was just unacceptable. And my work, a lot of my work, has been to see that in Minnesota that’s not going to happen. So, I’ve been in regular contact with the head of the Minnesota Hospital Association. We actually do have four hospitals now that are set up to take Ebola patients.
Watch full answers in the video above.
The Franken-McFadden Debate On WCCO